Modifications to the NIMH Special Council Review Procedures
Notice Number:

Key Dates

Release Date:

April 7, 2022

Related Announcements

NOT-MH-22-030 - Modifications to the NIMH Special Council Review Procedures (RESCINDED)

NOT-OD-22-049 - Notice of Change to NIH’s Policy on Special Council Review of Research Applications

NOT-OD-12-140 - Notice of NIH Special Council Review of Research Applications from PDs/PIs with More than $1.0 Million Direct Costs in Annual NIH Support

NOT-MH-24-230 - NIMH Funding Priorities for Applications Supporting Exceptionally Well-Funded Investigators

Issued by

National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH)


This notice replaces NOT-MH-22-030 and updates previously announced guidance from the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) on procedures for conducting Special Council Review (SCR). NIMH is updating the dollar threshold to be consistent with the NIH revised threshold (see NOT-OD-22-049) of $2 million in total costs. The NIMH guidance has been updated as outlined below.

Special Council Review (SCR) pertains to well-funded Program Director(s)/Principal Investigator(s) [PD(s)/PI(s)] submitting applications to NIMH. The new procedure requires that additional consideration be applied to applications requiring special review by the National Advisory Mental Health Council (NAMHC).


In September 2012, NIH implemented the SCR policy (NOT-OD-12-140) to help manage resources, and required Advisory Councils to provide additional review of new and renewal applications from investigators already receiving $1 million or more in direct cost for NIH Research Project Grant (RPG) funding. The 2012 NIH policy allows for the development of institute-specific variation of the SCR policy in consultation with individual Councils. In February 2022, NIH updated the SCR policy to align with updated Other Support disclosure requirements and to increase the threshold from $1 million in direct costs per year to $2 million in total costs (inclusive of direct and indirect) per year.

In consultation with the NAMHC, NIMH modified its SCR procedure with the goal of managing resources more effectively, allowing the Institute to fund a larger, more diverse group of investigators by reducing the concentration of funding, while simultaneously continuing to support unique opportunities for highly promising work that is not otherwise represented in the NIMH portfolio. This notice updates the modified procedure to align the NIMH dollar threshold with the updated NIH dollar threshold.

Updated NIMH Procedure

For applications under review at the May/June 2022 meeting of the NAMHC and beyond, NIMH will implement additional considerations when reviewing applications from exceptionally well-funded investigators. NIMH defines exceptionally well-funded investigators as investigators already receiving $2 million or more in total costs at the time of NAMHC review. These additional considerations do not modify the types of support that contribute to the threshold nor the applications subject to the SCR policy.

Applications with primary assignment to NIMH from exceptionally well-funded PD(s)/PI(s) (as defined above) will need to meet one or more of the following additional conditions to be considered for funding:

  • The application under SCR received an exceptional score – defined as an application scoring below the 5th percentile OR equivalent score for an application that does not receive a percentile.
  • The application under SCR is in a clear high-cost research area and involves significant time commitment (typically >= 4 calendar months effort) from each PD/PI.
  • The focus of the application under SCR is a high-priority research area for NIMH and proposes a unique research approach.
  • The application under SCR enhances scientific workforce diversity, defined as:
    • Investigator(s) with a unique perspective (e.g., career stage, discipline, professional, personal experience);
    • Unique institutional factors (e.g., undergraduate-focused, minority-serving, community-based, IDeA-state status);
    • Partnership(s) with geographic and regional heterogeneity; and/or
    • Substantial evidence of training and/or mentorship of a diverse workforce.

Note that meeting one or more of these criteria does not guarantee funding. These considerations will be assessed as part of the programmatic recommendations for funding decisions; further consideration for funding will require NAMHC concurrence. Applications may be considered for funding at a later date if the PD(s)/PI(s)’s total funding subsequently drops below the $2 million total costs threshold.


Please direct all inquiries to:

Tracy Waldeck, Ph.D.
National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH)